'Struggle to keep new-born warm gave birth to invention'

Mahip KC

Product Development Engineer, Nyano Nani

It was during a trip to Okhaldhunga that Mahip KC, a member of the National Innovation Centre, developed the idea of creating a baby warmer which is economical, user-friendly as well as functional. “I remember visiting a family who had kept their new-born baby under electric bulbs to keep the child warm,” he recalls, “It just sort of hit me right in the heart.”

Baby warmers are available not only in urban areas of the country but also in some rural regions. However, they are out of the reach of many families because of the cost. It was out of this need to help those less fortunate to be able to care for their children that KC and his team worked on the concept of Nyano Nani. “It was to help people in the rural areas where basic facilities too are scarce.”

KC shares that filament lamps do provide some heat to babies and saves them from the freezing cold but such lamps do not work for all new-born babies. He reveals that while developing the equipment his team conducted research in the rural areas and it was then that he realised how people had been surviving the harsh winters.

When asked why he chose the name ‘Nyano Nani’ for his invention, KC says that the name is self-explanatory; a baby who is snug and warm. “In the past two years we have received a lot of praise for the invention and also its name,” he shares. KC adds they have plans to use the brand name for a similar range of products in the future.

Work on developing the Nyano Nani started in early 2019 and by the end of the year, a prototype was ready to be delivered to the market. KC says there was a lot of research and hard work involved before they could actually launch the equipment. “It began with the proof of concept and the design,” he mentions, adding the constituents then had to be checked individually before they could assemble the parts into one equipment, and again test the complete machine. “The entire product development procedure was broken down into several phases.”

A diverse team of engineers and technicians had to be utilised to develop the Nyano Nani. “We had mechanical and electrical engineers along with electronic experts working on different components,” he explains, and all the sub-systems had to be ultimately integrated before the final product was ready. “The current version available for sale is an outcome of an iterative development process which went through a lot of changes and optimisations through the months,” he reveals.

There are many similar products available in the market, however KC states that Nyano Nani has been able to carve a niche for itself because it is the first biomedical equipment that is totally indigenous while fulfilling all international safety guidelines. Nyano Nani is being sold at Rs 85,000 a unit, which is similar to the cost of other such machines but KC says, “We provide better quality.”

“The other aspect is the 24-hour service we can provide with the help of our wide local network of service technicians and engineers,” he adds, elaborating, “We also provide thorough training to medical workers to enable them to use the device independently.”

Nyano Nani has a strong customer base. Besides individual orders, KC says one of their main customers is Jyoti Bikas Bank which has been buying and supplying Nyano Nani to different health institutions under their CSR initiative.

KC say he is now working to add some more features to the product so that it can also be used in the ICU departments of hospitals. “We are also looking into some innovative designs of Phototherapy Units which help in preventing jaundice in new-born babies.”

For KC, it was not about just developing and selling a product in the market. “We wanted to conform to international health and safety guidelines and biomedical standards,” he emphasises, something that was extremely difficult while procuring high-quality medical-grade components. The other major hurdle, he shares, is that Nepali consumers do not tend to believe in domestic products in comparison to international products. “The government talks about the importance of such innovations from time to time but when it comes to actually supporting such innovations, it hardly does anything,” he rues.

He adds if the government was more supportive then entrepreneurship and innovation culture would have grown in Nepal. “There is a lot that can be done here, especially in the IT sector and it does not require much investment. However, the right environment must be created to foster such developments,” he concludes.

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